Cyclist death sparks renewed call for crackdown on Montreal truck traffic

An influential cyclist advocacy group has renewed its push for tougher restrictions on large trucks in Montreal after a 30-year-old woman was fatally struck by a dump truck.

Urgences-Santé identifies deceased as 911 emergency medical dispatcher

On Tuesday, a memorial to deceased Montreal cyclist Valérie Bertrand Desrochers was set up at the intersection of St-Zotique Street and 19th Avenue. She was killed in a collision with a truck Monday. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

An influential cyclist advocacy group has renewed its push for tougher restrictions on large trucks in Montreal after a 30-year-old woman was fatally struck by a dump truck.

"We have huge trucks with massive blind spots going around our neighbourhoods and densely populated areas," Magali Bebronne, a project co-ordinator with Vélo Québec, told Daybreak on Tuesday.  

"They do not mix well with pedestrians and cyclists."

Police said the dump truck was turning right Monday morning as the woman was cycling straight through the intersection of St-Zotique Street and 19th Avenue, in the borough of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie. 

Urgences-Santé confirmed Tuesday that the woman killed was Valérie Bertrand Desrochers, a 911 emergency medical dispatcher.

Trucks are the problem, cycling advocate says

Bebronne said such collisions are all too common in Montreal because those blind spots make it impossible for drivers to see pedestrians and cyclists.

The intersection of St-Zotique Street and 19th Avenue is not considered particularly busy. It has sidewalk extensions to help slow drivers, a painted bike lane and a four-way stop.

There is even an anti-dooring lane painted on the street, encouraging cyclists to keep a safe distance from parked cars in case a door opens suddenly.

Cyclists use the painted bike lane on St-Zotique Street near 19th Avenue Tuesday where a woman was recently killed in a collision with a truck. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada )

While road safety measures can always be improved, Bebronne said, ultimately trucks are the problem. Truck circulation should be limited, she said, because no matter how careful the driver is, they cannot see everywhere.

Trucks like these, Bebronne added, often don't come equipped with extra sensors, mirrors or cameras. She said it is "really up to the industry and up to the city maybe to decide which trucks should be allowed on our streets."

In some European cities, she said, trucks are better designed with flat front-ends that improve a driver's range of vision. In London, she said trucks are rated based on how well a driver can see and the city is progressively banning those with the worst ratings. 

"If we want to adopt a system like London has done, it requires acting now so that we can see the effects in a few years," she said. "It does require warning the industry that such rules are coming."

Trucker was in no-truck zone, cyclist failed to stop

The cyclist and truck were both headed east on St-Zotique when the driver turned right onto 19th Avenue. The cyclist was in the bike lane at the time of the collision and witnesses told police that she failed to stop at the stop sign.

Montreal police Const. Nathalie Valois said the trucker was circulating in a no-truck zone. While trucks are prohibited from using such roads as through streets, she noted, local truck traffic is permissible. There are currently several construction projects in the area.

On Tuesday, cyclists ride by a memorial to the late Valérie Bertrand Desrochers, who died in a truck collision Monday. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

Montreal police organized a safety campaign at the intersection Tuesday morning, reminding both cyclists and pedestrians that trucks have dangerous blind spots.

It is important, she said, that people are "aware of that when you are behind or beside a truck."

The safety campaign is part of a two-year-old program aimed at improving road safety following a major collision. 

Officers will be around the intersection of St-Zotique Street and 19th Avenue for three days to make sure drivers and cyclists respect the rules of the road.

With files from Lauren McCallum


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